After dropping their first three games of the season, the UTSA Roadrunners were finally able to steer the ship straight and get in the win column against Texas State. Although the game was within one score for the majority of the time, the Roadrunners seemed to have total control. When it came down to crunch time in the end, plays were made that kept them in the game. After last week’s lackluster performance, this game was much needed to raise the team’s spirits. In its second year, the IH-35 showdown surely did not disappoint.
Throughout the game, the offense looked crisp. However, the defense was really the star of this game. Their impact was felt from the first whistle and they never looked back. This was the perfect test for the Roadrunners as they look to head into conference play with a chip on their shoulder. Although it was not perfect, it was clear that the ‘Runners’ are beginning to figure it out. “UTSA Turns It Around” will look into their improved play and how they were able to pull off their first victory of the season.
UTSA Turns It Around
Coming into week four, it was clear that the Roadrunner’s season was off to more than just a shaky start. They were testing out new quarterbacks to fill the role of Dalton Sturm. They also looked to replace the tenacious defensive end Marcus Davenport. Although still unperfected, the Roadrunners took a step in the right direction as they took down the Bobcats 25-21, in what is the teams fiercest rival. The hype surrounding this game was electric. It could be felt all throughout campus. This matchup was more than just a heated rivalry, but rather was the game that could turn the season around. This match showed where the team improved between weeks three and four and it is something worth discussing.
After a dreadful start to the 2018 campaign, the team that once looked so vulnerable now seems to have figured out their identity. The Roadrunners looked completely different than they did last week. Now, this can be attributed to the fact that they were facing far better talent from power five schools. However, this victory over Texas State should not be overlooked. The team from San Marcos was a formidable foe who well prepared the ‘Runners’ for conference play. UTSA took advantage of this opportunity to polish up and it showed.
The defense came to play on Saturday as on the very first possession, they were able to force a strip fumble and recover it for a touchdown. This immediate impact on the game left its mark as this gave the team the momentum they needed to perform. Through three weeks the UTSA defense only had three fumble recoveries overall and no defensive touchdowns. However, this week proved to be the breakout they needed as they had a fumble recovery and two interceptions.
Front Seven and Secondary Connection
This week, all eleven players on the field seemed to operate as one. Players were flying to the football and closing down on the opponent to keep gains to a minimum. After three weeks with no interceptions, the UTSA defense came away with two. These turnovers helped fuel the team and allow the offense to get back on the field. Contributions in the turnover department came from all three levels of the defense. The defensive line, linebackers, and secondary all provided much-needed boosts to help swing the game in their favor. Also, the team posted five total sacks on the day. This pressure paid huge dividends as they were able to continuously force the quarterback out of the pocket, causing inaccurate throws downfield.
The quarterback and offensive line play is still a question mark. Through four weeks, starting quarterback Cordale Grundy has yet to eclipse 200 passing yards in a game. This leaves many people worried about offensive production in the future. However, if he continues to throw accurately and not commit any turnovers, eventually he will find more success airing the ball out.
The offensive line this week was able to provide more protection and time in the pocket. As a whole, the offensive line only conceded one sack to the Bobcat defense. This pass protection gives the team the best opportunity to win and keep the offense on the field. With this increased time comes the ability to throw the ball more. When head coach Frank Wilson has confidence in his passing attack, he can open up his playbook. As a result, Wilson can incorporate trickery in some of his schemes, keeping the defense honest.
Special Teams Victory
The special team’s unit was productive this week. They dominated the Bobcats in all facets of this phase of the game and it as clear that this helped carry the Roadrunners to victory. Kicker Jared Sackett was lethal on Saturday nailing all three of his field goal tries. This included one from 44 yards out. He was also perfect on his two extra point attempts. Sackett personally contributed 11 points to the Roadrunners narrow four-point victory and was a standout in the win.
This game against Texas State was a great moral victory for the Roadrunners. If they want to turn their season around, they will need an all-out effort from every individual. Every practice will show improvements. As conference play nears, UTSA looks to sharpen their play as they will soon face tough competition. Conference USA powerhouse, North Texas, received some top 25 votes from the poles this week so this is an early indication of the talent level that the team will soon face. The Roadrunners look to build off the win and get their second victory as they travel to Houston this week to take on the Rice Owls.